Today I came upon this article, and thought it would be appropriate to discuss. Mostly, I’d like to discuss why over half of this list is dumb. Here is one blogger’s list of top ten reasons why people should vote, and ten commentaries following explaining why he’s wrong.
So here are the top ten reasons to vote:
1. Not voting is a vote for the other guy. You might not love your guy, but how much do you dislike the other guy or gal? Yes, “lesser of two evils” isn’t so inspiring, but it still has some merit. Actually, not voting means not voting for anyone. If you don’t vote, it’s not like the “other guy” magically gets one more vote. Also, “some merit” is not inspiring either. Why should people bother with something that doesn’t inspire them? If having French Toast for breakfast is even a tad bit more inspiring than “somewhat inspiring,” then I’d say that people should eat French toast instead of vote.
2. It gives you the right to complain. Say the winning candidate supports an issue that you’re vehemently against. You have no right to complain if you didn’t participate in the election. Mmm, nothing like a bit of moral ranking of citizens. First off, as citizens of this country, people should have the right to complain about anything they want. People do it all the time. People complain about “the man,” yet don’t hold corporate jobs…so does that mean they should shut up? People complain about many things. One of them is our system of voting. This statement is assuming that not voting = not caring, which is not always the case. What if a person actively chooses not to vote? That’s one way of stating a belief, and showing complaint. That’s not any less valid than voting.
3. People have died to secure the right to vote. Literally died. Voting is extraordinarily important right–not just a chore. People have died to secure many things. However, coercing people into voting by means of a guilt trip doesn’t get us anywhere. If people don’t want to vote for a positive reason, then isn’t that saying something about our political system? People should want to vote. It’s like visiting your grandparents. Yeah, if you’re forced to visit them, then at least when they die you won’t feel guilty, but it still sucks visiting your grandparents if they’re horrible people. Being forced to go doesn’t make you like them more. Being forced to vote through a guilty conscience is the same thing.
4. You can change the world. Given that America’s a huge player on the world stage, any vote can have wide repercussions. Has anyone else heard of the electoral college? Because really, it’s their votes that count when you look at past elections closely. Also, unfortunately, one person can not affect an entire nation. Not even the person you’re electing into power can do that, clearly, just look at how much has been accomplished in the past two years of Obama’s presidency. Is that a bash on Obama? Not at all. With our current political system, the individual does not have much sway. Sorry for that reality check.
5. Because every vote matters. Elections have been changed based on just a few votes. Let’s not have a repeat of the Florida vote in the Bush/Gore election. I wouldn’t call that “just a few votes,” but hey, if you want to just throw words around when trying to convince people to vote, go ahead, I’ve heard that strategy works really well.
6. “You’re mad as hell and you’re not going to take it anymore!” (Not really party specific.) If you’re really mad as hell, you probably are thinking above and beyond elections. People who are mad protest and stand up for what they believe; they don’t just go vote in some booth and then quietly scoot on home. If you’re really that mad, voting alone is not going to be enough.
7. The midterms are as important as a presidential election. After all, the election will determine how much of his agenda President Obama can or cannot get through Congress. Something we can mildly agree on!
8. It’s your civic duty. Regardless if you do or don’t like the way the country is heading, voting is like paying taxes: it’s your rent for living here. Sure, taxes are mandatory and voting isn’t–but when voting actually determines how much you are or aren’t taxed (among other things), it really shouldn’t be something you consider optional. Well, thank you for that second guilt-ridden reprimand, mom, I’ll just go on voting now…
9. It’s easy. If you can take a trip to the supermarket to buy food, you can take a short trip to a polling station. Short as in distance, but in terms of time…yeah right. Be prepared to wait a while, especially if you end up being one of those unfortunate people whose paperwork was messed up through no fault of your own, because you’ll have to wait for them to fix that before you can vote. It’s time-consuming, which is probably another reason why not everyone does it.
10. You get an “I Voted” sticker. This one may trump all the rest. You also get a sticker when you get flu shots as a kid. I’m sure if you get vaccinated and ask your doctor, he’ll give you an adult-sized sticker if you want one. If not, being a working, legal adult, you should probably have enough money to be able to buy a one dollar sticker pack from your local CVS Hallmark aisle. If an argument to vote has to end with a material bribe, I think that people aren’t voting for a reason, and getting them to vote may not be the solution. Maybe we need to look at the bigger picture that lies outside of the polls.